Established in 1950 by DeGrazia, the Gallery in the Sun is a Tucson tradition that is a favorite among visitors and local Tucsonans alike. DeGrazia and his work are characterized by their rebellious approach and passionate depiction of Southwestern life.
The artist made design sketches then gathered a crew of friends who made traditional adobe bricks with soil mixed with the water DeGrazia hauled up in his Model A. The adobe bricks were made onsite.
With its rock floors, interior murals and open-air roof, the Mission in the Sun was built in honor of Padre Kino and dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe, whose image DeGrazia painted onto the adobe altar.
Near the mission is the original home DeGrazia built on the property and the first small gallery where he displayed his art. As his fame and finances grew, DeGrazia designed a larger gallery on the property where he could exhibit his steady stream of new originals. He again assembled a crew to make the adobe bricks and help with construction.
“DeGrazia had a vision,” recalled Marion. “He knew exactly what he was doing…When it was ready, we opened the door and the people kept flooding in.” The iron gates are a replica of the Yuma Territorial Prison gate, opened to the public in 1965, and the tradition continues as visitors from around the world flock to this legendary landmark of art and architecture.